If ever there was a day to get outdoors, Saturday is staking its claim. It is National Get Outdoors Day, and admission is free to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Celebrating 125 years of parks and trails, the state Department of Natural Resources also is hoping to fill every campsite and lodging facility. Reserve sites at mndnr.gov/reservations, or call 1-866-857-2757. For general information, call 1-888-646-6367. Below are several Saturday activities:
Paddle the Minnesota River in a day
Minnesota River State Water Trail
All day Saturday
Can a 318-mile river be paddled in a day? The goal is to get as many people as possible to paddle every navigable river mile of the Minnesota River State Water Trail, from the headwaters near Big Stone Lake in Ortonville, Minn., to the confluence of the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Trip leaders have organized numerous group paddles open to the public all along the river. Some offer free use of canoes or kayaks. Or, if you prefer to go with your own group, find a section of the river that hasn’t been spoken for and claim the segment you wish to paddle. Registration required for your miles to count toward the total. (1-507-359-6062, mndnr.gov/riverinaday)
Just some of the other possibilities Saturday around the state. More information at mndnr.gov (except where noted):
• Picnic gathering, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Fort Snelling State Park.
Pack a lunch and meet near the beach for scavenger hunts, a story walk and other nature activities. (612-279-3550)
• Get Outdoors Day at Powderhorn Park, noon-4 p.m., Minneapolis. There will be opportunities to catch fish, paddle a canoe, scale a climbing wall, roast marshmallows and learn archery. Everything is free; all equipment is provided. There also will be live music and food. (minneapolisparks.org)
• Outdoors fair, noon-3 p.m.
Whitewater State Park. View informational displays and skill stations set up around the park. Try canoeing, archery, geocaching, bird-watching or making your own walking stick. You can also learn about fly tying, gardening with native prairie plants, snakes of the bluff lands and live raptors. (1-507-932-3007)
• Outdoors exploring, noon-3 p.m., Lake Carlos State Park. Sample a variety of family activities, including paddling, archery, geocaching, hiking and bird-watching. There also will be informational displays about the park’s history; information on frogs and toads of the area, too. (1-320-852-7200)
• Outdoors recreation day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Father Hennepin State Park. Stop by the beach picnic area for ongoing displays and activities, including stand-up paddleboarding instruction, fishing-related action and more. (1-320-676-8763)
• Centennial Wagon Train reunion, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Itasca State Park. In June 1991, the Centennial Wagon Train, which included more than 50 wagons and 150 horseback riders, traveled 200 miles in two weeks from the State Capitol to Itasca State Park. Everyone is welcome. Bring a lawn chair and meet at the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers Showgrounds. Potluck lunch and program. (1-218-699-7251)